CELLIST Rebecca McNaught was named Gloucestershire Young Musician of the Year 2015 by a prestigious panel of judges at Pittville Pump Room on Tuesday evening (Feb 24). But she shared the spotlight with another winner – the audience’s choice of violinist Jennifer Statham.
For the very first time the concert-goers were given the opportunity of voting for their favourite while the judging panel chaired by Meurig Bowen, director of the Cheltenham Music Festival made their decision.
The two delighted musicians, both from Cheltenham, were among six talented county musicians who made it through to the finals from a record entry of 22 contestants.
Rebecca, who is in her first year studying Music at Oxford said: “This is something I have been working very hard for and it’s a wonderful surprise to have won.”
She received a cash prize of £500 presented by sponsor Stephen Godsell of Parkers Estate Agents and CJ Hole Estate Agents. And she also received the Hewitt-Jones Trophy from composer Thomas Hewitt-Jones, whose family has made a huge contribution to music education in the county.
Rebecca, who began learning the cello at the age of six, will be given the opportunity to perform a recital at the Cheltenham Music Festival, as well as two concerto performances with the Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra and Gloucestershire Symphony Orchestra.
Jennifer Statham, 18, who is on a gap year before studying Music at Cardiff University, said: “I’m really happy to have been voted as the audience’s choice and I think Rebecca was a worthy overall winner.”
A cheque for £200 was presented to Jennifer by Eoin Schmidt-Martin representing the Carducci Trust who have sponsored the audience prize. Jennifer will have the opportunity of playing a recital at the Carducci Festival at Highnam in May.
The runners-up each received a cash prize of £100, presented by Steve Godsell, who said: “It’s fantastic to be involved with encouraging these very talented young musicians. Parkers Estate Agents ad CJ Hole would like to wish them all well in future.”
Making up the judging panel were Jo Hensel, Deputy Head of Wind, Brass and Percussion at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and award-winning cellist Gemma Rosefield. While they deliberated, Longhope jazz band Twice William, led by saxophonist Oliver Stanton, played to the audience.
Gloucestershire Symphony Orchestra took over the running of the contest this year with sponsorship from estate agents Parkers of Gloucester and CJ Hole of Cheltenham. They are working in partnership with Cheltenham Music Festival, the Carducci String Quartet, Gloucestershire Music Service and the Gloucester Academy of Music.
The finalists were:
- Santos Hau, 17, from Gloucester (piano) who attends Sir Thomas Rich’s Grammar School and studies at the Birmingham Junior Conservatoire;
- Sophie Haynes, 20, from Gloucester (cello) who is studying at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama;
- Rebecca McNaught, 19, from Cheltenham (cello) a former Pate’s Grammar School pupil, who is reading music at Oxford University;
- Nicola Rouse, 18, from Badminton (trumpet) studying at the Royal Academy of Music;
- Jennifer Statham, 18, from Cheltenham (violin) currently on a gap year;
- Abigail Waterman, 18, from Cheltenham (flute) a pupil at Pate’s Grammar School.